In addition to ill health, Grahame's retirement was precipitated in 1903 by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank. Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed. An alternative explanation, given in a letter on display in the Bank museum, is that he had quarrelled with Walter Cunliffe, one of the bank's directors, who would later become Governor of the Bank of England, in the course of which he was heard to say that Cunliffe was "no gentleman", and that his retirement was enforced ostensibly on health grounds. Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899, but the marriage was not a happy one. They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was "Mouse") born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.
Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May 1920. Out of respect for Kenneth Grahame, Alastair's demise was recorded as an accidental death. Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire in 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Grahame's cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time". While still a young man, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St.
James Gazette. Some of these stories were collected and published as Pagan Papers in 1893, and, two years later, The Golden Age. These were followed by Dream Days in 1898, which contains The Reluctant Dragon. There is a ten-year gap between Grahame's penultimate book and the publication of his triumph, The Wind in the Willows. During this decade Grahame became a father.
The wayward headstrong nature he saw in his little son Alastair (also known as "Mouse") he transformed into the swaggering Mr. Toad, one of its four principal characters. Despite its success, he never attempted a sequel. In the 1990s William Horwood came up with a series of sequels.
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